Giles feels good in spring debut
Returning from knee surgery, outfielder gets two at-bats
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Brian Giles came out swinging Monday at Tucson Electric Park against the Arizona Diamondbacks.While the 37-year-old outfielder didn't get a base hit in two at-bats before being pulled in the fourth inning, Giles got some good cuts off D-backs starter Edgar Gonzalez and played the field for the first time since microfracture surgery on his right knee on Oct. 3. More importantly, his right knee, which is still healing, felt good. "It's nice [to be back]," said Giles, who played right field. "You work hard all winter to get to this point and hopefully we keep progressing forward and we're ready to go March 31 [for Opening Day]." Giles swung at the first pitch he saw Monday -- a foul ball down the first-base line -- as he led off for the Padres. Three pitches later, he grounded out to second base. "I got out of the box good [on the ground ball]," Giles said. "No problems." In his second at-bat in the top of the third inning, Giles fouled off three pitches before he lined out to second baseman Orlando Hudson on a 2-2 count. On the play, Hudson flicked the ball over to shortstop Stephen Drew to double up Callix Crabbe at second base. In right field, Giles fielded a Hudson base hit in the bottom of the third, took no more than a few steps back on a towering Trot Nixon homer over the right-field bullpen in the second inning and thought better of chasing a foul ball in the first inning. "The one fly ball that was [hit toward right field was fouled] two rows back in the bleachers," Giles said. "I ran over, and I felt fine on it. Then you have a decision to make: Do you do something stupid and try to make a catch in the stands or let it go? Luckily, it was too far away." Giles hit .271 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs in 121 games for the Padres in 2007. He missed 34 games from May 20 to June 28 with what the club called a right knee contusion and acknowledged his knee was hurting for the last several weeks of the season. Giles was supposed to get his first Major League action with a pinch-hit appearance in Sunday's game with the Colorado Rockies at Tucson's Hi Corbett Field. Rain forced the cancellation of that game.
With the TEP field still damp from Sunday's rain and some very light sprinkles early Monday, Giles and the Padres coaching staff contemplated, briefly, whether he should push the start back one more day."We talked about it earlier, but I need to get out there. Time's running out," said Giles, who says he'll be in the Opening Day roster. "This was a pretty good test. I know it was only three innings, but the conditions weren't that good out there. It's a little wet in the outfield, and it's windy and cold." Before Monday's game, Giles ran sprints after the team stretched then fielded plenty of grounders and fly balls in the outfield during the team's batting practice. He said he was happy the uncharacteristically cold weather did not adversely affect his knee. Tucson's low early Monday morning dipped to 40 degrees. Giles said he felt he got plenty of work in Monday to test the knee and wasn't concerned about his results. "As long as my knee feels fine, that's my main concern right now," Giles said. The plan for the rest of the spring is to get 30-40 at-bats before opening day, according to Giles, who is scheduled to play on Tuesday against the White Sox. "That'll be enough to get some rhythm at the plate," he said.
Geoff Grammer is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.